Mrs. Olugbemi Ozojiofor, Director of Lagos Ministry of Information and Strategy asserted that the concept of gender equality is realisable, especially in a male-dominated environment. This, according to her, is in relation to the remarkable feats modern women achieve in their chosen fields of practice, professions, businesses etc. In a chat with Elizabeth Ogunbamowo, she affirmed that today’s women have gone far to break the traditional myths and barriers that impede their desired successes
What is your reaction to an aspect of the African culture that sees women more as a kitchen statue?
Today, we have risen above cultural barriers, the populace is getting more, and more aware that even though, the woman’s constituency is in the kitchen to take care of her family, she also has a role to play in the society. We have the right of potential development. We have risen above these barriers, examples abound.
The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, is a woman and a Muslim. She has no barrier and she has a well-rooted family who supports her. If you can recall, of all the deputy governors we have had in Lagos State, and if you go across the nation, we have had fine women making impacts.
What is your take on gender equality?
My take on gender equality is that even though this forum identified the fact that girls and women are vulnerable but the vulnerability is not a weakness. It is just that they are more open to the danger of rape. What about their intellect? You find women in so many professions. Many women have made their marks in the field dominated by men. Gender equality, you ask? Yes, I support! Gender equality in terms of intellect, in terms of impact they make in the society.
Do you think gender equality is achiavable?
Yes. It is realisable. Even the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has said that the state will have its first female governor in no distant time while presenting the winner of the Lagos State Spelling Bee Competition to Ms. Zuffon Bukola, an SS2 student who became a day governor of the state. And the runner-up who became one-day governor, Ms. Rosemary Ogidan also, was a girl-child. We all look into the future that one day, a woman will emerge the governor of Lagos State. So, we are winning!
How can the African woman be assertive in male dominated environment without paying for it?
You can only be assertive when you do things right. When you are not found wanting. Even when there is a problem, have a way of approaching issues. You leverage on challenges.
Cases of domestic violence are on the rise, how do you think the ugly trend can be addressed?
Our own generation and the generation before us is phasing out. More attention should be given to the boy-child — the training of the boy to respect the girl-child. Maybe if we start and build on that foundation, gradually, we will have lesser domestic violence cases. Whatever might be the pressure we are having, we should not put our anger on our marriages. We should comfort one another.
That’s why the Lagos State government through the Ministry of Youths and Social Development has a family programme it celebrates annually – the Family Day Celebration. Families that have stayed together for years are celebrated.
Early marriage is still prevalent in some parts of the country. How do you think this can be discouraged?
There is a child right law.
The law states that a girl is not yet an adult until age 18. It also covers issue of domestic labour. You cannot force labour on a child. Therefore, there is a law guiding these issues…that you cannot marry a girl below age 18. Moreover, we all are our neighbours’ keepers. If we all rise up to say, “This law is meant for us to observe, I will not permit any contrary views to it.” We are all gatekeepers.
The law is there, let us all join hands with government and be the gatekeeper of this law. I will not permit child marriage in my family or in my neighborhood. Cases of child marriages are being checkmated and well publicised. Look at the recovery of the Chibok schoolgirls. I think we are winning!
How do you cope with male counterparts at work?
We have a beautiful working relationship so far so good. We work as a team. But men will be men and women will be women by their nature. As a woman, you do not ask for extra favours. Follow the procedures and keep to it. Lay emphasis on merit!
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